His journey in the Hindi film industry has been among the most inspirational ones so far. And actor Manoj Bajpayee continues to be that figure to many aspirants who come in to Bollywood today. But, what he wishes would change in the industry is how we treat young actors who come in from outside, without any connections. And the nepotism and boycotting debate is on in full heat after Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
“In this industry, what I’ve learnt is that it has become imperative to improve upon ourselves. To push and encourage, support, mentoring talent should be the prime focus. Also, we should help those who’re coming from outside, living alone in the most miserable conditions, but have got talent.”
The focus is on ‘talent’, the 51-year-old says. “I’m not saying give a chance to everyone, but to those who you think are talented. You should push and encourage them, and try to make their journey, which is full of struggle, shorter. That’s all you can do. It doesn’t take too much money. But you’ve to ask yourself — are you interested in changing the system? Are you interested in rectifying our own mistakes? We’ve to ask ourselves,” adds Bajpayee.
The actor had once said that in the film industry, ‘we celebrate each other’s failure’, but he has always celebrated his actors’ success. How different or similar does he feel is the pressure on outsiders today, compared to how it was for him initially?
He quips, “For newcomers, this or any industry is very difficult, in any field. Let’s not point or mark out just this industry, that this is the only one. The only thing is that the development of these words ‘insider outsider’ only came in after Satya (1998) and Shool (1999).”
Bajpayee explains at length, giving examples of other actors who also came in the industry around the same time as him.
“I remember, people were coming from outside — some were becoming successful, some not, for whatever reason, but it was never about insider-outsider. I mean in the same industry, Shah Rukh Khan, at the same time Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty came in. Ajay Devgn’s father was a very well-known action director. So many people from inside outside, that you call, were coming in. People found them interesting, they went with them, but these words ‘insider outsider’, and the division between them, and the debate, started happening only about two decades back. Why? Why is this talk happening? The industry has to ask themselves,” says the actor, who has his film Bhonsle all set for a release on an OTT platform.
Given the current crisis and no update on when the theatres will open, many filmmakers are taking the web route to release their ready and pending films. Ask Bajpayee whether he’s conscious about the platforms where his films release, he is quick to negate the idea.
“Had it mattered, I wouldn’t have done the web show The Family Man, or a web film Mrs Serial Killer. I’ve done three-four short films that have done wonders. If content is great and I’m convinced, I go ahead and do it,” Bajpayee tells us.
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